The Family Group, 1960
Donated by Progressive Enterprises Ltd, 2008.
Location: Ilam Campus, Lawn outside Okeover building:
‘The Family Group’ was originally commissioned by the Hay’s Company to adorn the exterior of their Hay’s Shopping Centre, which opened in Upper Riccarton in November 1960. The shopping centre was the first of its kind in New Zealand, and was promoted as ‘the friendly store’.
Russell Clark was perhaps better known as an illustrator than as a sculptor. However, by the 1950s, after working for so long with pen, ink, and watercolours, he decided to move forward in the art of sculpting. Clark experimented with a variety of media, including wood, concrete, and stone. In ‘The Family Group’, Clark experimented with a new medium called cement fondu, which though a fascinating medium to work with, has proven difficult to maintain.
Clark had a great passion for public sculpture. He thought that if only people would spend a tiny bit less on building projects, and devote those funds to sculpture instead, Christchurch could be sprinkled with works that would enhance spaces often viewed as commonplace, making them into a special part of our everyday experience.
This sculpture is a particularly special addition to the University’s art collection, as it is one of only a handful of outdoor sculptures currently sited on either the Ilam or Dovedale campuses. In addition, the sculpture is by an artist who was intimately connected with the University, and with the development of art in the region.